The Climate of Montana

By | August 27, 2022

The US state of Montana (MT) is located near the Canadian border. Native American reserves, mountains in the west and a number of large lakes are prominent within the “Treasure State”. The west of Montana is part of the large mountain range Rocky Mountains, the east is considerably flatter and has many forests. The mountain formations provide many beautiful valleys. Montana’s varied landscapes make this state especially popular with nature lovers.

Different climates

Montana (the 4th largest state in the United States in square kilometers) in area has a number of different climates due to its large surface area and great diversity in landscape. The central part of Montana is dominated by a cold steppe climate (type BSk according to the Köppen climate classification), in the west you will find a combination of a moderate continental climate, which goes through a moderate continental climate to a high mountain climate on the highest mountain peaks.

The weather in Montana

Montana has wide variations in the average annual amount of precipitation. Statewide averages fall less than 400 millimeters per year, but there are some significant deviations from this average. For example, in the eastern valleys of the mountains there is less than three hundred millimeters of precipitation. Examples include Lonepine (291mm) and Deer Lodge (279mm). The mountains themselves, on the other hand, have considerable amounts of precipitation. An annual precipitation sum of 2000 to 2700 millimeters (Grinnell Glacier) is normal here. Summers in Montana are relatively warm, with the highest peaks being an exception. In a city like Billingstropical maximums of thirty degrees or more are easily achieved in July and August. Winters are cool to cold throughout most of Montana. Frost, snow and ice drifting in some lakes are no exception in the period from December to February. With a strong northerly current, icy arctic air can easily reach Montana.

Climate figures

The figures below are based on long-term average climate statistics. The temperatures are displayed in degrees Celsius (°C).

maximum temperature minimum temperature hours of sunshine per day days of rainfall per month
January -1℃ -13℃ 4 10
February 3℃ -10℃ 5 8
March 6℃ -6℃ 7 10
April 12℃ -2℃ 8 9
May 18℃ 3℃ 9 11
June 23℃ 8℃ 10 10
July 28℃ 10℃ 12 7
August 28℃ 10℃ 10 8
September 20℃ 4℃ 8 7
October 14℃ -1℃ 7 6
November 6℃ -7℃ 4 8
December 0℃ -12℃ 3 9

The climate of Billings

Billings is located in the central-southern part of the state of Montana in Yellowstone County. Billings is the largest city in this state. The city was created after the arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad and was named after the then director of this railway. Due to the rapid growth of the city, it was nicknamed Magic City. When oil was discovered at the beginning of the previous one south of Billings, the town received the final impulse to grow to its present proportions. The city is on the edge of Yellowstone Park.

Billings has a cold steppe climate, with extremely little precipitation during the year. The little precipitation that falls there will mainly come down as snow during the winter months. During the winter period, long periods of frost and night frost can occur here. The mercury can rise considerably in the summer and temperatures well above 30 degrees Celsius are certainly no exception.

The climate of Bozeman

Bozeman is one of the larger towns in southwestern Montana. Bozeman is located in Gallatin County, sandwiched between the Bridger Mountains, the Tobacco Root Mountains, and the Big Belt Mountains. The town is named after the founder of the Bozeman Trail, John Bozeman. This route connected the Oregon trail with Montana. In the city is the Montana State University, on the campus is the Museum of the Rockies.

Bozeman has a cold steppe climate, with slightly more precipitation than most parts of Montana. There is quite a bit of precipitation here, especially during the early summer months. The average temperature during the winter months is well below freezing and long periods of frost are no exception. In the hottest summer months, the temperature is just below 30 degrees Celsius, but it will cool down quickly in the evening.

The climate of Buttea

Butte is a medium-sized city in the southwestern part of the US state of Montana. Butte is located in Silver Bow County. In the early 1900s, copper discovery made Butte one of the fastest growing cities in America. During this period there were more than 100 saloons in the city and the city also had a famous red light district. Today, the copper mines mainly serve as a tourist attraction.

Butte has a cold steppe climate, which is characterized by a long period of frost during the winter months. During this frost period, the limited precipitation that falls here will mainly come down as snow. The summer months are a lot cooler than in other parts of Wyoming. Night frost can occur all year round.

The climate of Great Falls

Great Falls is a large city in the western central part of Montana. Great Falls is located in Cascade County, on the Missouri River. There are five waterfalls in the Missouri near the city and the city owes its name to these waterfalls. In total, these waterfalls span a height of 55 meters. The largest of these waterfalls spans more than 25 meters alone. The Malmstrom Air Force Base and the 341st Missile Wing are located in Great Falls.

Great Falls has a cold steppe climate, with one distinct rainy season. This rainy period lasts from April to August. The other months of the year are very dry. The average temperature during the winter months is below freezing and long periods of frost are therefore the rule of the exception. The mercury is around 30 degrees Celsius during the hottest summer days.

The climate of Helena

Helena is the capital of Montana, a state in the north of the US. Helena’s original name is Crabtown, a name that was soon replaced by Saint Helena. The addition “Saint” has disappeared over the years. Helena owes its existence to the presence of gold in the ground. This precious precious metal attracted many prospectors to Helena.

Helena has a cold steppe climate. Within the Köppen climate classification this is indicated by the letter code BSk. Helena has fairly long and cool winters, in which snowfall is quite common. In total, more than a meter of snow falls per year, with the first flakes falling as early as October or sometimes even September. The cool winter is offset by a fairly warm summer, with the mercury rising to an average of 28 degrees Celsius in the hottest months (July and August). Sometimes it gets a bit warmer and temperatures of more than 35 degrees can be noted. Despite the warm days in the summer, Helena has few balmy nights. Temperatures also drop quite quickly in the summer months once the sun has set.

The climate of Missoula

Missoula is a large city in western Montana, not far from the Idaho border. The city is located in Missoula County, on the Clark Fork and the Bitterroot River. It is the second largest city in the state in terms of inhabitants. Originally this was the habitat of the Kootenai, Pend d’Oreille, Blackfeet and a number of Indian tribes. The city originated sometime in the 18th century as a French pioneer village and was renamed Missoula in the 19th century. The city is home to the University of Montana’s main campus.

Missoula has a cold steppe climate, with little rainfall throughout the year. The average winter temperature is slightly higher than in other parts of Montana. However, this does not mean that the winters here are pleasant. The cold record is at -38 degrees Celsius, the heat record at 42 degrees Celsius. During the summer months, the average temperature is just below 30 degrees Celsius. Nights in Missoula are on the cold side all year round.

Missoula Montana